How to Make a Polar Density Plot in R
With cyclical data, a circular format might be useful. Combine that with a smooth density to reduce noise, and you got yourself a plot.
Use of a circular layout oftentimes seems like someone was trying to make some data look nice. Other times, the circular layout can fit better in the space you have. Or, your data is cyclical, so it can be useful to overlay the same periods over each other to compare.
Whatever the reason may be, the polar coordinate system is not something to shun away. It can be useful for the right case.
In this tutorial, you visualize data that is cyclical and smooth out the data to reduce noise and focus more on the overall distribution. The result, depending on who you ask, is a polar, spider, or radar plot with a smoothed density curve.
To access this full tutorial and download the source code you must be a member. (If you are already a member, log in here.)
Get instant access to this tutorial and over a hundred more, plus courses, guides, and additional resources.
You'll get unlimited access to hundreds of hours worth of step-by-step visualization courses and tutorials for insight and presentation — all while supporting an independent site. Source code and data is included so that you can more easily apply what you learn in your own work.
The tutorials are very helpful to move from "Oooo, cool!" to how to actually DO the cool.
Members also recieve a weekly newsletter, The Process. Keep up-to-date on visualization tools, the rules, and the guidelines and how they all work together in practice.
See samples of everything you gain access to:
More Tutorials See All →
Loading Data and Basic Formatting in R
It might not be sexy, but you have to load your data and get it in the right format before you can visualize it. Here are the basics, which might be all you need.
Transitioning Map, Part 1: Mapping Irregular Data with Interpolation in R
Rarely do you have evenly-spaced data across an entire geographic space. Here is a way to fill in the gaps.
How to Make an Animated Map in R, Part 4
In the the last part of the four-part series, you make a longer animation with more data and annotate.